STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (KDKA/AP) — Penn State’s interim head football coach Tom Bradley says he is taking over for legendary coach Joe Paterno “with very mixed emotions” and wants to “find a way to restore confidence and to start a healing process” within the community.
In the wake of the dismissal of Paterno by the University’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday night, Bradley – the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator – was named interim coach.
Tom Bradley’s Uncut News Conference:
He said he had “no reservations” about taking over.
“I take this job with very mixed emotions due to the situation,” said Bradley. “I’ve been asked by the university – by the Board of Trustees, by Rod Erickson – to handle this and I told them I would do it last night, and I will proceed in the manner that Penn State expects.
“As I met with the players last night and today, I told them the expectation are the expectations,” he said. “We’re not going to waiver from that.”
Bradley is expected to coach through the end of the season, starting with Saturday’s home finale versus Nebraska.
“This team has put a lot of hard work in,” Bradley said. “This is Senior Day for them, they deserve to have this day, that’s what they’ve worked for this whole year and my job is to facilitate that that happens.”
Bradley will meet with parents of current players this evening, and then afterward speak with Penn State’s recruits.
He also had a message for the students following Wednesday night’s protests over the dismissal of Paterno.
An estimated 2,000 students took to the streets of State College after word came down that the long-time coach was out. Some were peaceful but others set off firecrackers, toppled a street lamp and overturned a news truck.
“I think the message is clear, let’s show them what Penn State’s really all about,” Bradley said of what he expects from students before, during and after Saturday’s game. “It’s not about some of those activities; let’s show class, let’s show dignity and let’s show what we’re really all about.”
During his news conference, Bradley also talked with great respect of his former boss.
“Coach Paterno will go down in history as one of the greatest men; and maybe most of you know him as a great football coach,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege and the honor to work for him, spend time with him and he’s had such a dynamic impact on so many, so many – I’ll say it again – so many people and player’s lives; and it’s with great respect that I speak of him and I’m proud to say that I work for him.”
Before the news conference, a number of Penn State coaches were seen visiting Paterno’s home. They had no comment for reporters.
KDKA’s Harold Hayes reports:
Anytime he was asked specifically about the child sexual abuse allegations against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky though, Bradley replied: “Due to the ongoing investigation, I’m not going to comment on the matter.”
However, when asked in general about whether football coaches have a responsibility to report wider allegations of sex crimes, Bradley answered, “We all have a responsibility to take care of our children.”
“I grieve for the victims. I grieve for the families. I’m deeply saddened by that; it’s with great emotion that I say that,” he added. “The football part, we will get working on that right away. Right now, I think you should know where our team is toward this whole issue is toward those children, is toward those families, and our thoughts and our prayers are with them.”
Bradley also said Mike McQueary, the receivers coach who allegedly witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in a shower in 2002, will be coaching on Saturday.
Also, Jay Paterno, Joe Paterno’s son, will remain with the coaching staff.
Bradley has been on the Nittany Lions staff for 33 years.
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